Friday, April 20, 2012

Championing a Forgotten College Tennis Star

It started with “The Forgotten Champion,” an October 2010 article by Virginia Union University Sports Information Director Jim Junot. It continued with the 26-minute documentary Bringing Home the Bacon: The Roland McDaniel Story, which was directly inspired by the article and screens tonight at the 2012 Heritage Film Festival in Largo, Maryland. And it will hopefully continue, one day soon, with the admission of its subject, now in his early 90s, to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Hall of Fame.

McDaniel was part of VUU's 1939-40 basketball “dream team” as well as the only CIAA tennis champ to then or since be minted by the school. But everything fell apart in the early 1940s when the CIAA ruled just hours before a special fundraising game in New York against the Harlem Globetrotters that the contest broke association rules. VUU was penalized, while McDaniel was forbidden from defending his tennis crown.

The film's director, Brian Bullock – also a VUU alum – told Maryland community newspaper The Gazette that his end goal with this particular project is clear:

“It’s really more of a campaign to get this guy inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Bullock says. McDaniel is set to be included in VUU’s Hall of Fame, and Bullock hopes he will one day make it into the CIAA Hall of Fame.

Bringing Home the Bacon was broadcast earlier this year on a pair of Virginia area PBS affiliates. It's a great story, one that deserves a happy CIAA Hall of Fame ending, hopefully while the resilient Mr. McDaniel is still among us.

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